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Editorial: Vote 'no' on state marriage question

In the Declaration of Independence of 1776, our founding fathers wrote that every American was "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Minnesota citizens in 1857 approved our State Constitution, which remains the primary document formulating our government and protecting personal rights and liberties of all citizens.

That is why Section 1 of Minnesota's Bill of Rights simply reads: "Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people ..."

Changes in a state constitution are and should be made in only rare circumstances. Moreover, constitutional amendments should be made in a bipartisan and just manner. That has been the Minnesota way since 1857.

Voters on Nov. 6 face a decision on a constitutional amendment that was arbitrarily pushed through by a majority party without bipartisan support. The amendment is primarily designed to discriminate against the rights of Minnesota citizens and puts government in the role of deciding a matter of religion.

This is amendment vote will impact the fair treatment and freedom of all Minnesotans for years to come.

Proponents of the marriage amendment believe that marriage is defined as one man and one woman. They also believe that allowing same-sex marriage somehow redefines marriage. And they also believe that the primary purpose of marriage is to create children and that cannot be done in a same-sex marriage.

These arguments do not hold up to the test of facts.

Marriage is a partnership between two consenting people who want to make a legal commitment to each other. Just because one group of citizens believes a minority of citizens should not have a specific right does not make it fair, just or morally correct.

The primary conservative party of this century -- the Republicans -- was formed in 1854 to fight the expansion of slavery and secure basic freedom for all individuals. The party has historically fought the intrusion of government into private lives and sought to protect the basic rights of all people.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney supports civil marriage for all couples because of the importance of freedom. "My general view is freedom means freedom for everyone," he said.

That freedom also means that Minnesota churches have the same freedom. Religious congregations can and do limit marriage to heterosexual couples and are free to marry only those they choose. Government does not and should not have any role in making that religious decision.

There simply is no evidence that same-sex marriages have negatively impacted the marriage or multiple marriages of any citizen or legislator in this state.

A similar fear of the unknown once prohibited the marriage of interracial couples both socially and legally in some states. Government should not be in the business of deciding who can or cannot love each other.

In the same vein, Iowa did not turn into Sodom and Gomorrah since that state legalized same-sex marriages. Also many same-sex couples have married in Iowa and are now living in wedded bliss in Minnesota.

America is changing as societal, generational and legal opinions evolve. Today, seven states allow same-sex marriage. Even many staunch conservatives, like Clint Eastwood and John Bolton, support the freedom of same-sex couples to marry.

Approving this marriage amendment will also have a negative impact upon the business climate of our state. A large coalition of Minnesota businesses value the many gay and lesbian couples among their employees and customers and thus oppose this discrimination.

Each of us should look into our hearts, our families and our communities. Then think about those individuals who just want to marry the person they love, hold dear and want to protect. Then ask yourself if enshrining marriage discrimination in our constitution is Minnesota nice.

We believe that Minnesota is a just state that was founded on the belief of human rights. All who believe in justice, liberty, freedom and less government intrusion should vote "no" on this ill-advised marriage amendment.